Can You Use Concealer as Foundation?

An age old question with the power to divide makeup bags the world over- can you use concealer as foundation? An expertly blended line has been drawn, and artists on both sides of the brush are weighing in.

Foundation advocates, like reformed concealerist Michelle Villett of the Skin Care Edit suggests, “The right foundation will allow you to skip concealer,” altogether. Minimalists on the other hand, like Erin Jahns of Who What Wear in Los Angeles advocate ditching heavy coverage and saving time with a trusty concealer.

Both sides make a strong case. Foundation is lighter and easier to blend, but it’s best for all over coverage and takes longer to apply. Concealer is thicker with a more concentrated pigment. It’s easier for spot applications but doesn’t spread well and requires more product for all over coverage.

Is Concealer the Same as Foundation?

The short answer is no. Concealer, as the name suggests, is designed to camouflage imperfections. It is thicker and heavier, and has a higher pigment concentration than foundation. Used as a spot treatment, concealer is ideal for hiding dark circles, skin discolorations and blemishes that foundation doesn’t cover. The correct shade should be slightly lighter than your natural skin tone.

Foundation is designed for all-over coverage. It is thinner and lighter than concealer, and comes in a broader range of colors and formulations. Foundation evens out complexion and creates a smooth, uniform makeup-ready canvas. The correct shade should be an almost exact match to your natural skin tone.

What is Concealer Used for in Makeup?

Concealer is one of the most important and diverse tools in a makeup artist’s kit. From a single-color medium-coverage stick, to a targeted multi-color pallet, the right concealer can mask imperfections while creating flawless depth and dimension.

Blemish Concealer

  • Thick and rich in pigmentation, blemish concealers have a creamy consistency designed to blend evenly over acne. Most blemish concealers also contain ingredients designed to help soothe and heal acne.

Brightening/Highlighting Concealer

  • A concealer one or two shades lighter than your skin tone will help brighten dark areas. A concealer two shades darker than your skin tone is great for adding contour and creating dimension. A contour pallet typically contains both shades.

Color Corrector
To address discoloration concerns, a color corrector palette contains three different colors designed to “cancel out” specific issues.

  • Peach- Cancels out the blues most prevalent in dark circles under the eyes.
  • Green- Cancels out the redness associated with irritation and dryness.
  • Purple- Cancels out the yellows most common in cystic acne and bruising.

How to Choose and Use Concealer

Concealers come in three different formularies. It is important to choose the one best suited to address your specific skin concerns.


  • Ideal for normal, oily, combination, sensitive and breakout-prone skin
  • Dewy, satin, shimmer, and matte finishes


  • Ideal for normal, dry and sensitive skin
  • Satin and matte finishes


  • Ideal for normal, dry, combination and sensitive skin
  • Creamy and satin finishes

1. Under Eye Circles- Use the pad of your middle finger or a brush to apply concealer in dots beginning at the inner corner of your eyes, and stopping just before your smile line. Blend concealer with your finger pad or brush using a patting or dabbing motion. ***Never rub***
2. Hiding a Blemish- Use a blue light or hand sanitizer to sanitize the pimple. Apply a light layer of primer and allow it to dry. Use the pat/dab technique to apply concealer, followed by foundation and setting powder.
3. Concealing Scars- For puckered, or raised scars, use a lightweight, creamy concealer. For flat or sunken scars, use a thick concealer with a matte finish.

What is a Foundation Used for in Makeup?

Foundation is, quite literally, the foundation of your makeup application. Applied to the whole face, it creates an even, uniform canvas primed and ready for makeup artistry. Foundation comes in a variety of coverage and colors, and can even be custom crafted to match your unique skin tone.


  • Either oil or water based, liquid foundation offers the most coverage and comes in formulations designed for all skin types.


  • Designed for convenient touch-ups. Pressed powder foundation is best suited for oily skin types that lack fine lines for the powder to settle into.


  • Liquid foundation with air “whipped” into it. Mousse foundation creates a smooth, matte finish and is ideal for all skin types.

Mineral Powder

  • Natural, organic foundation that most commonly comes in the form of a loose powder. Mineral foundation is easy to blend and works well with all skin types.

What is Better, Concealer or Foundation?

Because they both have very different purposes, concealer and foundation are equally important. Used together, they create makeup magic.

Concealer is great for on-the-go, natural looks. If you want to even out your tone, or you’re planning a full glam session, foundation is your best friend. If you have significant skin issues- blemishes, discoloration, etc., concealer applied with foundation creates a flawless, Instagram worthy finish.

Can I use Concealer Instead of Foundation?

Concealer is a perfect alternative to foundation if you are trying to achieve a more natural, makeup-free look. Bare is beautiful, and concealer allows you to camouflage the parts you want to hide while naturally highlighting all the unique features that make you, you.

Pro Tip: GlamSquad artistic director Kelli Bartlett says, “adding a little moisturizer can help the concealer blend and melt more easily into skin.”

Full glam sessions almost always demand the use of foundation. Concealer is heavier, and has fewer color options, which means you will have to use more and less equally to create the same look you can achieve with foundation. Another pitfall is that heavy applications of concealer tend to cake and crack and don’t hold up well to all-day wear.

How to Use Concealer as Foundation

1.Cleanse and moisturize your skin.
2. Select a color that “disappears” on your skin in daylight.
3. Use a medium coverage, liquid-base concealer.
4. Use the tip of your finger or a wet sponge to apply.
5. Use a color correcting pallet to address any major color issues.
6. Set it with a translucent powder.

When Applying Both, Foundation or Concealer First?

Another hotly debated question with supporters on both sides of the brush- which goes on first, foundation or concealer? On the one hand, concealer is meant to mask flaws. Wouldn’t it make sense to put it on first? That depends, according to professional makeup artist Allan Avendaño. “When someone has really dark circles or looks fatigued, I go in with a color-correcting concealer first, then use a foundation to even everything out.”

Robin Black, founder of Beauty is Boring, has a different approach. “Foundation is meant to even out your skin tone and reduce the appearance of blemishes, discoloration, and excess redness, so until you’ve applied your foundation, it’s hard to judge how much concealer you actually need to use.” Professional makeup artist Fiona Stiles also points out that blending foundation on top of concealer causes the product to shift, which is wasteful and creates more work, “as then you have to go over the area again.”

Pro Tip: To prevent concealer from slipping or settling, set it with translucent powder. Sweep it over your face with a beauty brush to create a dewy finish, or roll it over your skin with a sponge or blender for a matte finish.

Concealer and foundation are two of the most powerful tools in a makeup bag. Versatile, almost to the point of interchangeable, when the two are combined, the end result is nothing short of glamazing!

Joy-Lee Founder and writer of


Hi, my name is Joy-Lee and I'm the owner of As you might've noticed, I'm a true beauty lover, and made it my passion, my work and my hobby. I love sharing my thoughts and feelings on a variety of beauty aspects and want to thank you for reading!